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What's in your safety file?

By Linda Jackson on 05 December 2016

What information do you need in your safety file? Here’s a handy checklist developed by the experts

 Your health and safety system

A health and safety system or programme generally includes the following elements in order to show due diligence defense in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the regulations.:


Important aspects

SHE policy statement

  • Written policy document
  • Displayed and signed by the CEO
  • Review date

Individual responsibilities

(Appointment letters - set scope of work)

  • Responsibilities of employees
  • Responsibilities of supervisors and first-line supervisors (Section 8(2)(i) appointees)
  • Responsibilities of senior management (Section 16(1) and 16(2) appointees)
  • GMR 2(1) – Supervision of machinery
  • Assistant to GMR 2(1)
  • GMR 4(3) – Shiftsman appointment
  • Responsibilities of safety coordinators
  • Emergency Controller
  • Fire Fighting Co-ordinator
  • Fire Fighter
  • Fire Team Member
  • Fire Fighting Equipment Inspector
  • First Aid Co-ordinator
  • First Aider
  • Incident Investigator
  • Stacking Supervisor
  • Ladder Inspector
  • HCS Co-ordinator
  • Ergonomical Survey Officer
  • Health and Hygiene Co-ordinator
  • Pollution Surveys
  • Work Permit Survey Officer
  • Air Power Tools Inspector
  • Explosive Power Tool Controller
  • Explosive Power Tool Operator
  • Etc.

Health and safety representatives and   committees

  • Appointment of representatives (GAR 6 & Section 17 & 18 of OHSA)
  • Establishment of health and safety committees (Section 19 & 20 of OHSA)
  • Appointment of Health & Safety Committee Members
  • Appointment of Chairman Health & Safety Committee
  • Monthly meetings

Risk assessment

  • Baseline Risk Assessments
  • Issue based risk assessment
  • Continuous risk assessment

Safe work procedures

  • After the critical area activities have been identified, standards must be determined to establish safe work procedures.
  • Written procedures or standards needs to be set (SWP’s or SOP’s)

Employee orientation

  • Safety awareness should include:
  •  emergency procedures
  • first aider and location of first aid stations
  • health and safety responsibilities, including those specified by legislation
  • reporting of injuries, unsafe conditions and acts
  • use of personal protective equipment
  • right to refuse hazardous work
  • hazards, including those outside own work area
  • reasons for each health and safety rule
  • each individual’s specific role and responsibilities
  • scope of authority (Job descriptions)


Training programmes should be established and maintained to address:

  • Knowledge and understanding of the organisations safety programmes, rules and procedures as well as each individual’s specific role and responsibilities.
  • Systematic programme of induction and ongoing training for employees and those how may be transferred between divisions, jobs or tasks
  • Training in the handling of risks, hazards and dangers, precautions to be taken and procedures to be followed
  • Training in hazard identification, risk assessment and control
  • Training for all persons who may manage others like employees, contractors and other
  • Training of top management in their role and responsibilities
  • Training and awareness programmes for contractors, temporally workers and visitors according to the level of risk which they will be exposed to
  • Training in the correct report procedures
  • Training in proper incident/ accident investigation
  • Training in the effective monitoring of the quality of the health and safety programme

Workplace inspections

 Regular inspections by:

  •  Health and Safety Representative
  • Supervisors
  • Where prescribed by regulations

 Inspect the workplace to identify hazards related to activities:

 Regular, planned workplace inspections

  • Equipment inspections
  • Special inspections

 Inspection lists – useful tools


 By Approved Inspection Authority:

  •  Ventilation surveys
  • Light surveys
  • Dust surveys
  • Noise surveys
  • Lifting equipment
  • Pressure vessels
  • etc

Medicals (pre-medicals, baseline, periodic and exit medicals)

Where prescribed by a regulation:

Noise; heat; dust; chemical exposure; asbestos; lead etc

Reporting, recording and investigating accidents

 Reporting to PD:

  • Section 24 - Reportable incidents (WC.I 2)
  • Section 25 – Occupational deceases (WC.l1)

 Recording and investigations:

  • GAR 8 & 9
  • Annexure 1

 Emergency procedures

 Fire precautions and procedures are adequate:

 Building construction

  • Access and egress
  • Emergency exits
  • Emergency lighting
  • Fire fighting appliances (sufficient, appropriate and maintained)
  • Fire drills and alarm checks
  • Storage of flammable/combustible materials (gas cylinders, fuel oils, wood and paper waste)
  • Identification of fire / explosion risk areas and instructions for isolating power, fuel, gas etc.
  • Evacuation procedures and responsibility for roll calls
  • Employee training in procedures and general fire safety practices.

Other emergencies, similar procedures to those for accidents and fire are required for emergencies, to cover such events as:

  •  Gas leaks
  • Explosions
  • Pressure vessel rupture
  • Building collapse
  • Chemical leaks and spillage
  • Bomb threats

First aid

  • Training of first aiders
  • Provision of first aid boxes
  • Inspection & control of first aid boxes


Created by: Tinus Boshoff


Editor’s note:

This list is obviously dependent on which sector you operate in. You may not use explosive power tools as an example. This is the kind of documentation the Department of Labour inspector can reasonably ask for when inspecting your premises.

Look out for our future articles when we unpack this list in more detail and show you how to apply this in the food industry.